With Indiana football, caught in a losing streak, set to travel to Rutgers this weekend, we reached out to our friends at On The Banks with questions about the Scarlet Knights.
Here’s what they had to say:
What are some of Rutgers’ strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball?
A weakness has been the quarterback position. That’s been clear and it’s not just because of injuries. When Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt have been in there, they have been ineffective. For this game, Rutgers will have all three quarterbacks healthy and it will be interesting to see how they are used. Can’t forget that Sean Gleeson was recently fired as offensive coordinator so a lot of questions will be answered.
Indiana has allowed 280 passing yards per game this season so something will have to give. As for strengths, Rutgers has stopped the run all year. Opponents are rushing for 91 yards per game and the defensive front has been legitimately strong. They do not get to the quarterback much, which could be an issue, but in terms of stopping the run, Rutgers has been strong.
Which Scarlet Knights should be circled on a depth chart, players to watch out for?
Offensively, I have highlighted the rushing attack all year. Rutgers is middle of the pack in the Big Ten in terms of numbers but they have some playmakers. Now, the offense just has to find a way to use them.
Samuel Brown V has taken over a bit as the primary rusher as a freshman. Kyle Monangai and Al-Shadee Salaam provide depth. We have not seen Aaron Young yet, who continues to work through an injury. Defensively, Deion Jennings has stepped up in the middle. The linebacker position was a huge question mark coming into the season, perhaps the biggest on the team. Jennings leads the team in tackles.
From an outsider’s perspective, it feels like the Scarlet Knights have a hydra situation at quarterback. What should Indiana expect from that position?
We’re all going to find out together. This is the first time all three quarterbacks will be healthy and active at the same time. Coming into the season, Vedral and Wimsatt were considered the duo that would man the position. So far, Evan Simon has been the only player healthy all year.
I mentioned Rutgers letting go of Gleeson and Nunzio Campanile will take over as the interim OC. At this point, we don’t know who will be named the starter and we don’t know how they will be used. Schiano has said many times he will do what it takes to win but no one really knows what that is at this point.
For reference, Rutgers began the season-opener against Boston College with three different QBs taking snaps during a three-and-out. Indiana and its fans might see something they haven’t before.
Greg Schiano recently handed the offensive reins over to Nunzio Campanile. We know he’s been at Rutgers for a minute, what does his offense look like?
Campanile is a Jersey guy and this has some believing that he could be right for the job. That is yet to be seen though. He has spent time at Rutgers and powerhouse high school programs, Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco, early in his career.
This is not the first time that Campanile is the interim for Rutgers. He took over in 2019 when Chris Ash was fired. At this point, fans have to hope that Campanile finds a way to involve the weapons. Gleeson’s play calling became predictable and uninspiring this season. Aron Cruickshank and Joshua Youngblood have great speed and it needs to be used.
At this point in the season, Rutgers needs to open it up a bit. The offense has been bad and bad for awhile now.
Speaking of coaching, Schiano is a defensive guy. What has that unit looked like this year?
The defense is the strength of the team and might actually be good – not just good for Rutgers. It is allowing 285 yards per game and 22 points. They have 11 sacks, which is less than two per game but I mentioned they have struggled to get to the quarterback. The positive is that all other areas have been strong.
The secondary is the most experienced and talented unit. Max Melton and Christian Izien have a chance to play on Sundays. The defensive line is deep and mainly because of players stepping up. This has not happened offensively this season. Aaron Lewis, Jersey guy and Michigan transfer, comes to mind immediately when it comes to players stepping up.
Rutgers has been competitive thus far, minus Ohio State, because of its defense and that can be the same this week.
Rutgers was unable to find conference wins at home against Iowa and Nebraska, what held the Scarlet Knights up against those two?
Offense. Playcalling. Turnovers.
In those two games, Rutgers allowed a total of 41 points. Iowa scored two defensive touchdowns. So the defense allowed just 27 points in two losses.
Simon threw an early pick six against the Hawkeyes and Iowa also scored on a fumble. Against Nebraska, Rutgers went up 13-0 and still had a chance to hold on late. For some reason, the staff had Simon dropping back in their own zone rather than running the ball and punting to ride its defense. Nebraska picked it off and got the ball at the 30-yard line to set up the game-winning score.
The offense and playcalling has been infuriating to this point. If Indiana wants to gain an advantage, put some pressure and try to force a turnover.
Any bold predictions for the game?
Rutgers comes into the game having lost 20 consecutive home games in the Big Ten. Full disclosure, I have picked Rutgers to lose all three conference games this season. If I had to make a pick here, I hesitantly think Rutgers wins this game. That is as bold as it gets when looking at the past two years.